Russia Freaked: The T-80 Tank Nightmare In Ukraine Has Just Begun

T-80 Tank from Russia
June 7, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaUkraineWar In UkraineT-80TanksPutinT-72MilitaryDefense

Russia Freaked: The T-80 Tank Nightmare In Ukraine Has Just Begun

Russia's main battle tanks, including the T-80, have suffered heavy losses in Ukraine, with thousands reportedly destroyed.


Summary and Key Points: Russia's main battle tanks, including the T-80, have suffered heavy losses in Ukraine, with thousands reportedly destroyed.

-Despite being more modern than some Soviet-era tanks, the T-80 remains vulnerable to advanced Western weapons like the American Bradley Fighting Vehicle.


-The T-80, originally introduced with a gas turbine engine and later upgraded with new armor and systems, still struggles on the modern battlefield.

-Moscow continues deploying older MBTs due to the significant depletion of its tank fleet.

Russia's T-80 Tanks Face Devastation in Ukraine

Russia’s fleet of main battle tanks has not fared well in Ukraine. Ukrainian forces, armed with a versatile range of advanced Western weapons, have sliced through the ranks of Russian MBTs – analysts reckon Moscow has lost thousands of tanks. 

Russia has deployed a wide range of MBTs to the frontlines, including Soviet-era variants and even World War II relics. While the T-80 platform is more modern than some of its counterparts, it has suffered just like the rest.

Countless videos and photographs of destroyed T-80s have circulated over the last two years, showing just how vulnerable this Soviet-era armored vehicle really is. Last month, Ukraine’s 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade shared footage of a T-80’s destruction that reportedly took place in the Donetsk region. An American-supplied Bradley Fighting Vehicle reportedly carried out that attack. 

An Overview of the T-80

While the T-80 looks similar to its T-72 predecessor, the latter model’s layout and design actually hew closer to the Morozov Design Bureau’s T-64. When it debuted, the T-80’s sophisticated suspension and gas turbine engine made it more capable than those earlier series of MBT. But while the engine provided superb speed and maneuverability, it also consumed too much fuel.

To fix the problem, the T-80 has undergone several facelifts over the years. In the 1980s, the tank was fitted with a new engine and with Kontakt-1 Explosive Reactive Armor designed to detonate anti-tank missiles before they could pose a serious threat. 

The latest T-80U variant features upgrades including engine-transmission ventilation and cooling systems, and a more advanced gas-turbine engine.

T-80 Tank

Army Technology describes other key characteristics: 

“The tank fire control system is the 1A42, which includes a 1V517 ballistic computer, two-axis electrohydraulic weapon stabilizer, and a rangefinder sight stabilized on two axis, as well as a GPK-59 hydro-semi compass azimuth indicator, and an azimuth indicator for the turret rotation. This system permits firing on the move.”

Russia Has No Choice But to Deploy Older Tanks

The T-80U may sound good on paper, but the MBT has proven vulnerable to Western-made anti-tank weaponry. The Russians have probably lost around 700 of these tanks in Ukraine. It makes sense that the Soviet-era systems deployed by Moscow are not doing well against newer weapons, but the Kremlin has no choice but to continue to send out older MBTs in order to keep its diminishing fleet on the battlefield.

T-80 Tank

About the Author: Maya Carlin 

Maya Carlin, National Security Writer with The National Interest, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin

All images are from Shutterstock.